Memento Mori: A Birthday Wish
There are no requirements that a birthday wish be realistic, so I tested the terms and conditions by asking for something I thought to cross the northern borders of absurdity into the land of impossibility. I wished that all suffering end. My wish floated away on the cigar smoke I blew towards the sky, aiming at no star in particular. My hopes that the Universe do me a solid by my next solar return lasted as long as the vapor, itself bound to the laws of reality. Perhaps another wasted opportunity.
I could’ve just asked for more money gained from more lucrative work earned to buy more expensive things I’ll hardly use. As if I could accumulate enough goods to overcome the despair I hold from my very commodification. Instead, my heart shrouded my judgment and my sensibility. After all, I was born on the first day of Pisces season and — as an omen that I would forever be a recovering procrastinator — a day after the late great “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” Audre Lorde.
Poet and scholar Sonia Sanchez wrote to Audre, beginning her prose as her poem to our mother and literary star Dr. Shirley Graham Du Bois and later to actor and activist Ossie Davis. In words that struck my soul like a bolt in the field Sonia opened, “Death is a five o’clock door forever changing time.” *
Does suffering end with the changing time? Indeed, it is 5 o’clock somewhere. Why do we spend our days as the functioning alcoholic attempting to delay the necessary and inevitable return home? What are we avoiding? Better yet, what are we seeking?
Buddhist teacher and spiritual leader Charlotte Joko Beck asserts,
“We spend a lot of time looking for something called the truth. And there is no such thing, except in each second, each activity of our life. But our vain hope for a resting place somewhere makes us ignorant and unappreciative of what is here right now.” **
We constantly seek the meaning of life instead of living it. This is understandable, given the hierarchy we must navigate lest we dwell in precarity or perish. It atomizes our lives into ever smaller bits we must sell for even smaller gain. We gain, but not without enduring pain. In this alienation we don’t lose truth. We are separated from it…